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Tag Archive: Ioan Gruffudd


Lively Age of Adaline

Review by C.J. Bunce

A different kind of time trip awaits you.  The Age of Adaline didn’t do much to promote the presence of Harrison Ford as a key character in this supernatural fantasy romance that hit theaters only last year.  Yet it’s one film that Harrison Ford fans–even those who may not normally go for a romance movie–will not want to miss.  Recognized as a Peoples’ Choice Award nominee for Favorite Dramatic Movie, but otherwise not making much of a blip on the radar of moviegoers, The Age of Adaline presents a solid fantasy story even if we’ve seen the subject matter before.

Blake Lively takes center stage as Adaline Bowman, a woman who was seemingly killed in an accident in the 1930s at the age of 29.  Yet instead of staying dead, a bit of mystical intervention causes her to no longer age.  She is left exactly like Ioan Gruffudd’s Dr. Henry Morgan in the ABC TV series Forever–to struggle with being immortal, for no apparent reason, and without any answers.  Those around her continue to age, and she avoids relationships so she will not be found-out and used for some eager scientist’s experiments into the secrets of eternal youth.  Like Morgan’s older looking son played by Judd Hirsch in Forever, Adaline, too, has an older looking child, played by Ellen Burstyn posing as Adaline’s grandmother.

The-Age-of-Adeline-ford

Despite the familiar territory, the pleasant cast–including Orphan Black and Game of Thrones’ Michael Huisman, who plays Adaline’s kind and earnest boyfriend Ellis, and Ford as Ellis’s father–gives viewers an enchanting new take on the trope.  Lively manages to balance a sweet romance between Adaline and Ellis and another character, and the writers (three in all) avoid the typical love triangle this story could have easily taken.  Ford provides some solid dramatic acting work, one of his best, most understated performances in years.  The result is a good romance fantasy that is easy to recommend to any audience.

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Freeman Watson

Almost if to prove that they can do the original Sherlock Holmes better than Guy Ritchie’s 19th century film adaptations, showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are promoting the next episode of their Sherlock.  This time stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return to the story’s roots instead of modern England, yet the latest trailer hints that they still live in a world well aware of Holmes’s crime-fighting fame.

“You’re Sherlock Holmes,” says Dr. Watson as he thrusts the famous deerstalker hat into Holmes’s hands, “wear the damned hat.”

The 19th century streets, the buildings, the entire environments are impeccable.  Would we rather have a Sherlock movie or a television series so long as either stars Cumberbatch and Freeman?  We may all answer “series” if only they could crank out more than three episodes every year or so.  But we’ll happily wait as we did for the equally good A&E Channel Horatio Hornblower episodes starring Ioan Gruffudd (Forever, Fantastic Four), Denis Lawson (Star Wars: A New Hope, Marchlands), Paul McGann (Doctor Who), David Warner (Tron, Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Time After Time), and Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) that arrived piecemeal in a series of eight TV movies between 1998 and 2003.

retro Sherlock

So check out the latest from Sherlock here:

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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forever18

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Brace yourselves:  It’s another eccentric-male-expert-and-his-younger-female-law-enforcement-handler crime drama.  But this time there are a couple very big, very appealing twists.  Premiering September 23, 2014, ABC’s new supernatural drama Forever stars underused genre favorites Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Fantastic Four, Ringer) and Alana De La Garza (Law & Order).  You’ve probably seen the previews and already know the premise: Ioan Gruffudd’s Henry Morgan, a New York City medical examiner, cannot die.  Or, rather, he keeps dying–but mysteriously returns to life, almost just at the moment of his departure.  It is the mysteries of that process–inexplicable even to Morgan, even after some 200 years–that the series will explore.  But it’s the powerhouse casting, rich writing, and excellent chemistry that set Forever apart from your run-of-the-mill immortal medical examiner and smart tough female cop drama.

Watching Ioan Gruffudd since Horatio Hornblower in the 1990s, you always got the feeling he was searching for that next perfect role.  He may have finally found it.  His somewhat formal, very British (the actor is originally from Wales) air has landed him brief roles as the stilted, brilliant, rich guy (Fantastic Four, Ringer, a recent guest spot as a billionaire on Castle)–but it’s all of those factors that make him perfect as the literally immortal physician.  Gruffudd really does seem like he stepped out of the past, smart enough to have lived and learned for 200 years, but never quite shaking his original 1800s mien.  A self-proclaimed expert on death (his own, and everyone else’s), Morgan is doomed to suffer the familiar pang of every immortal: watching everyone else grow old and die.

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With obvious nods to BBC/Masterpiece Mystery megahit Sherlock (Gruffudd even ties his scarf in Benedict Cumberbatch’s signature knot), it’s clear what audience Forever is trying to reach.  And yet Morgan is infinitely more charming than Sherlock Holmes ever was, even as he instantly micro-analyzes your life the moment he meets you.  What comes off as egregiously, appallingly pompous from Holmes, is a winsome parlor trick in Morgan’s hands–and that charm and affability make him immediately sympathetic, because you understand that all the charm in the world can’t protect him from eventually losing anyone he cares about.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

(With spoilers)

Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a dual role as estranged twin sisters in her new series Ringer on the CW network.  The “ringer” in the title is presumably Gellar as sister Bridget, who ends up as a pretender and “dead ringer” for high-class sister Siobhan.  The difficulty for Gellar will be getting viewers to forget she was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The pilot episode featured non-stop plot twists, so many that it the show is very engaging, but begs the question: Can the writers keep up the momentum, or will this ultimately fall flat like Buffy co-star Eliza Dushku’s overly hyped but short-lived series Dollhouse?

Ringer plays more like Gellar’s early soap opera work but there may be more here to stick around for.  As Bridget, the focal character of the series, Gellar shines as a weatherbeaten survivor of one or more 12-step programs, barely making it in the world, and currently plea bargaining a prostitution rap in exchange for turning states’ evidence on a local crime boss.  But Bridget is smart and clever and concocts a plan to go away with a long-lost sister, Siobhan, who no one in Bridget’s current world knows about, a classy and smarter sister who is wealthy and has a seemingly perfect life.  But Siobhan too reveals a more vulnerable side and we slowly learn her life is in shambles in various ways.

On a boat ride the sisters bond but Siobhan drugs Bridget and by all accounts Siobhan throws herself overboard.  This leaves Bridget to step into her life like in The Riches or Dave, but Ringer is no comedy.  Bridget learns her sister had a dysfunctional relationship with her husband, played by Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Fantastic Four).  She easily takes to her sister’s best friend, only to learn her sister (and now she) is having an affair with her friend’s husband.  Yet we get the feeling she likes Siobhan’s husband and could make her new life work as his wife.  See the soap opera-esque branches starting to form?

As almost an afterthought she learns the problem behind her sister’s marriage: their son must have met some early death. This is befuddling and we only know this from a brief reaction to a snapshot on a shelf.  Wouldn’t this son have come up in a prior conversation?  We must assume this was also held back for some reason as part of Siobhan’s planned death.

To leave us further hanging, Bridget picks up the phone to learn her sister’s test results are back, Siobhan was pregnant, and Bridget repeats this aloud so now her new husband thinks she is pregnant.

But wait–there’s more.  We see a last-minute murder attempt on Bridget’s life.  And the person behind the hit?  Flash to Paris, France and here is the real Siobhan, alive and well after all.

  

Ringer will be the ideal star vehicle for Gellar and opportunity for Emmy glory.  She gets to play a down-and-out fish out of water with Bridget, and Bridget’s opposite in jet setter, fashion forward Siobhan, both caught up in this complicated web of deceit, with Gellar onscreen for every minute of it.  Do they pay actors twice for playing two roles?  Do you think Gellar asked her agent this question?  (Buffy would have).  Viewers will find themselves asking:  which sister is Gellar more like in real life?

Except for the huge Buffy fan base that is eager to see the next new Gellar project, the cards are stacked against any show like this being successful.  Will each episode be about lies built on other lies, with Bridget skating through all the barriers thrown at her?  How long can that story last, or will they play up the soap opera plotting to make this go on forever?  With most series cancelled abruptly we may never learn where the story will end.  Ringer’s producers and writers will need to offer more than twists to keep viewers watching.

That said, episode one pummeled us, along with character Bridget, with a lot of material to digest.  Gellar’s acting is more nuanced than her Buffy days, and what she has to offer new each week is what will likely keep viewers coming back for more.

The 2011 San Diego Comic-Con is just ten days away.  Sold out months in advance as with past years, again more than 100,000 comics, sci-fi, fantasy, movie, TV and gaming fans will descend on the beautiful waterfront convention center for this year’s event.  Comic-Con organizers released the programming schedule for the four-day convention this weekend, and as usual there is something for everyone.

At the top of my list our own borg.com contributor, author Elizabeth C. Bunce, will be giving away advance copies of her new fantasy novel Liar’s Moon and will speak on a panel with other genre authors as part of the Saturday line-up.  She will also be available for signing copies of her new book, the sequel to StarCrossed in her Thief Errant series.  If don’t you don’t get a copy at Comic-Con you’ll have to wait until its official release in November from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic .

DC Comics has several presentations involving the September release/re-launch of 52 comic titles, including panels featuring Jim Lee and several writers and artists.  Digital artist  Freddie Williams II (Captain Atom, DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics) is scheduled to be in “artist’s alley” again this year and internationally known artist Alex Nino (God the Dyslexic Dog) will be featured in one panel.

Some great TV series cast presentations are scheduled to appear–the entire cast of Chuck, Psych, Warehouse 13, and Torchwood are at the top of the list along with a presentation by the one and only Bruce Campbell from Burn Notice.  The current Doctor Who himself, Matt Smith, is slated to be on a panel.

Another panel features Rick Baker, monster maker, talking about making creatures for the future release, Men in Black III.

The fan group OneRing.net will hosting a panel on the coming Hobbit movie and they hint at one or more surprise guestsand Mugglenet will be featured in a separate panel discussing the final Harry Potter installment.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four, Horatio Hornblower) will preview their new TV series thriller Ringer in one of the big convention ballrooms.

Other interesting scheduled presenters include Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead), William Shatner (Star Trek), Avery Brooks (Deep Space Nine), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Elijah Wood (Wilfred, LOTR), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Terry Moore (Echo, Strangers in Paradise).

You can also depend on the major studios to preview coming theatrical releases both on and offsite at this year’s show.  Too much for any one person to see! 

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com